As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Orbit. 26 February 2015. ISBN:
Have you ever ‘lost’ an hour, or a day, or maybe even a few days? Found
yourself feeling a bit dizzy and disorientated, in a strange place, possibly
wearing strange clothes, with no idea what you’re doing there or how it came
There could be an
The protagonist of Touch,
Claire North’s extraordinary new novel, has no body, no gender, not even a name
other than a label someone else attaches to him/her. The character is a
formless intelligence with the ability to ‘jump’ from one living body to
another, and no physical existence outside whichever body he/she is ‘wearing’.
It takes a lot of skill to
create a character on the page within those parameters, but North pulls it off.
Kepler, as the entity’s enemies call him/her, is largely benign, even generous,
give or take the occasional crime to meet a need. He/she even compensates the
bodies s/he borrows, restoring a damaged reputation here, providing a decent
Of course, not all similar
entities are on the side of the angels, and the plot involves one who uses the
power purely for self-gratification mischief. There’s also a large element of
fear of and the need to destroy that which we don’t understand, as Kepler hunts
down an organization devoted to research leading to the destruction of his/her
As well as this main
narrative thread in the here and now, North shows how entities of this kind can
live for centuries and travel all over the world; lives Kepler has lived
through past ‘hosts’play a large part,
and the action flips, sometimes disconcertingly, from continent to continent,
era to era, culture to culture.
It doesn’t set out to be
literary fiction, but succeeds in crossing three genres. The fantasy element is
self-evident; there’s plenty of crime, as Kepler chases down the bad guys who
commit the murder which happens in the opening chapter; and I was drawn in by
the sheer quality of the writing. If, like me, you wouldn’t normally take this
book down from the shelf (Orbit specializes in science fiction and fantasy, not
crime), you run the risk of missing a great experience.It’s a meaty read, one which demands your
whole attention, rather a bit of light escapism finished in two sittings, but
stay with it and you’ll find it’s well worth the effort.
And since the skill in
writing fantasy lies in creating circumstances which just might be possible,
you may find yourself wondering exactly how those few missing hours got ‘lost’...
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
a pseudonym for Catherine Webb,who was
born 1986. She was educated at the Godolphin and Latymer School in London and
the London School of Economics. She was 14 years old when she completed Mirror
Dreams, her first novel which was written during her school holidays.The book was published in 2002 by Atom Books,
part of Time Warner (now Hachette Book Group), and Webb was named Young
Trailblazer of the Year by the magazine CosmoGirl. She has published eight
young adult novels, all withAtom Books.
In 2010 she graduated from Royal Academy of DramaticArt. Webb prides herself on the scientific
and historical accuracy of her Horatio Lyle books. Catherine Webb also writes
fantasy novels for adults under the name Kate Griffin. As Claire North, she has
written two science-fiction novels.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.